The 1906 Sawyer bank robberies and the history of a building that is a fixture of downtown Minot are among the stories told on the "Digital Minot: An On-Line Museum of Local History" website, which will go live on Tuesday.
To preserve local history and allow Minot State University history students to practice their future professions within a local setting, Bethany Andreasen, associate professor of history at Minot State University, established a web-based museum and archive. Andreasen will give a presentation on the online museum at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Aleshire Theater, along with project coordinator Amy Lisner. Student researchers Stephen Davison, Kevin Matze, Alison Peterson and Kala Yarbrough will also speak about their individual research projects.
Matze, a history major originally from Richmond, Va., said visitors to the website will find many things to pique their interest.
Stephen Davison, a history major at Minot State University, has been working on the history of Erik Ramstad Middle School as part of the Digital Minot project. Looking on is history major Kevin Matze.
"It's a cornucopia," he said.
Matze spent the past few months researching the
history of the four-year experimental college located at Minot State University from 1971 to 1975. The program, funded by a federal grant, was intended as a building block program to develop stronger earth science teachers. Jim Fogarty, a teacher at Jim Hill Middle School, was one of the graduates.
Matze said there was some urgency in interviewing the people at the university who were part of the program, as well as any graduates in the area, because many are retiring and leaving the university. In his research, he aimed to tell the story of what it was like to be part of the little known program.
Peterson, a psychology major from Williston, spent much of her time researching the history of downtown Minot, specifically the history of The Fair, a building that was built in 1910 and 1911 and remodeled in 1928. The building was owned by the Ellisons, Engel Ellison and his sons Otto and Norman Ellison.
"The Ellisons were such a key factor in downtown Minot," said Parker.
The family owned a realty company and also bought other property in the area. Dean Caldwell owns The Fair building now, where the business The Gourmet Chef is located, along with apartments. People might drive by the building and see "The Fair" still written on the side.
Kala Yarbrough, a history major from Spokane, Wash., researched the history of Sawyer. One of the most interesting stories she uncovered was the tale of two bank robberies, mere months apart, in 1906.
"The same bank was hit twice," said Yarbrough.
During one robbery, which took place in the middle of the afternoon, people in the downtown were alerted when the thieves blew the door off a safe.
During the second robbery, the robbers escaped with $4,500 in cash, but were caught by the sheriff and a posse from Sawyer at Max. The sheriff had telegraphed ahead. Yarbrough said the robbers must not have been especially bright. A second bank was built in Sawyer after the robberies. Yarbrough visited the house that used to be the bank that was robbed. The house still has the original bank steps, she said.
Davison, a history major from Madison, Wis., spent much of his time researching the history of Erik Ramstad Middle School. He looked for old photos and conducted interviews with retired teachers and others from the school to help reconstruct the history of the school. The school had compiled old photos and other history for its anniversary a few years ago, but those precious photos and other items were lost during the flood last summer.
The Digital Minot team collaborated with local agencies and took Minot's history out of storage rooms and boxes, uploading materials and records spanning more than a century. The general public will have access to historical photos, postccards, newspaper articles, advertisements, scholarly journals, legal documents, oral histories, biographies, and more.
Students visited other locations such as the Old Soo Depot Transportation Museum, The Minot Daily News, the Minot Park District, Sawyer City Hall, the Ward County Recorder's Office, Gordon B. Olson Library and Minot Public Library in their efforts.
The project will continue and can be built upon over the years. More history interns are scheduled to work with the project this summer, said Lisner.
The exhibits can be viewed beginning Tuesday at (history.minotstateu.edu).